What's Love? Ch 15

Chapter 15

It's May, and my house is coming together better than I could have anticipated. Emmett and Edward have done a wonderful job with the remodel and got a mostly competent electrician to work with me. It's now down to the interior decorating.

Edward and I have developed a nice friendship. And by friendship, I mean that he smiles at me, and I ask how Miah is doing, and he passionately talks about his daughter. And I listen intently with a smile, but my mind splits into two; one is listening and the other is thinking about stripping him down and counting the tattoos he has with my tongue. How am I a genius?

Miah and I have also found a relationship as kindred spirits. She reminds me of what I was like before my dad died. When Alice comes over to talk about the wedding, Miah is with her sometimes. I've slowly begun showing her different coding, and I've begun teaching her sign language. We do that when we aren't involved with working on my original laptop that I kept from childhood. She is something special and she loves Edward. This also makes me have feelings that I've never experienced before.

Esme has broken down a few of my walls that I built to protect myself. She managed to convince me to accept her lunch invitation, and now she has dinner with me at least twice a week to see how I'm getting along.

"Bella, darling," Esme calls me to the kitchen.

"Yes, Esme." I smile at her wearing my apron as she looks at some design pictures we've been discussing, trying to narrow down how we're having the kitchen done.

"You need to come for dinner tomorrow. You're family, and I need you there to help my boy see that the harpy he's dating is just not worthy." She clucks her tongue in disgust as she thinks of the famous Tanya I've been hearing about but I've managed to avoid by purposely scheduling meetings and work related projects.

"I guess I can't ignore the invitations forever," I reply cheekily to her.

"I suppose you can't," she answers in kind.

I feel very carefree, but the weight of Charlie's warning to me is still in the back of my mind. I found the IP address and traced it to New York, but the name wasn't anyone linked to anyone I know. I tried to research known associates to see if my instincts were right, but my search came up empty on first appearances. I'm having Charlie dig deeper into phony accounts and such to see if they were paid to find me.

My uneventful day creeps into the dinner Esme invited me to, and Jasper is beyond excited that I'm finally coming. He claims it as a breakthrough.

It seems that I am the last to arrive at what I refer to as the Cullen mansion. The small, vain part of me likes to make an entrance. I'm wearing my ‘bitch be warned' outfit, as some female associates have named it. It consists of my black, four inch stilettos, blood red pencil skirt with a small slit, and black blouse with my hair flowing freely around me.
Entering the house, I notice a homey feel that comes from warm colors and family pictures that surround me as I walk into the foyer.

"Bella, I'm so glad you could make it. Everyone is just heading into the dining room." Esme immediately assaults me with a hug.

"Of course, Esme. Between you and everyone else I feel as if I would have been exiled if I didn't come." I was bemused when Jasper, Rose, and Miah all called me after Esme left yesterday to beg me to come to the family dinner.

I walk behind her as she guides me into the dining room. Jasper and Alice greet me with a hug, and I get waves from Rose, Emmett and Carlisle. Miah gives me a smile that really doesn't reach her eyes. Looking to her dad, I see a gorgeous blonde with all the features of a model hanging on Edward's delectable arm. I feel an emotion that is foreign and unwelcome; I'm very tired of experiencing new emotions.

It isn't until her face peers at mine that I recognize her. I really can't believe the odds, it's Tanya Denali.

"Hey, Bella, this is my girlfriend, Tanya." Edward politely introduces us, but I can sense that he regrets the introduction.

"Hi, Bella." Her voice is the same; annoying, sugary, and fake.
"Tanya, what a surprise." I take her hand, but her expression is blank as she tries to place me.

"I was placed in foster care, and your home was one of the ones I stayed in," I remind her as politely as I can. All the collected memories of my short time with her in her home become fresh in my mind. She was a horrible person, and if experience and research have taught me anything, she's most likely still a horrible person.

"Oh yeah, my family are very much givers and try to help out where we can. My father was the son of a preacher, you know." I can tell she's not liking that I knew her and had been in her house.

"That's just crazy that you knew Bella when she was young, just like Jazzy here," Alice says, always trying to be helpful.

"Yeah, I wish I remembered you, though. We took in so many kids through the years, I hardly remember all of them." She giggles. Fucking two-bit lying bitch. I can see it in her eyes that she recognizes me. It's hard not to remember the girl that got you into trouble, so much so that she went to boot camp for a summer.

"That's okay, I'm sure I'll jog your memory soon." I can't help but give her a sinister smile.

As I take my seat across from Miah, and next to Jasper,
Esme and Carlisle serve dinner. We quietly eat, but there's some tension in the air.

"How's the wedding coming along, Alice," Tanya begins the conversation with a seemingly safe topic.

"Oh, it's been wonderful. Bella got us the Marriott for the entire day with a planner who has been amazing. Peter is the caterer, and I can't believe we got him. Then, thanks to Bella," Alice gives me a megawatt smile, "Cora is designing my wedding dress, which is gorgeous. She also agreed to design the bridesmaid's dresses. Which reminds me,  next week Rose, Bella, and I are spending a girl's day together to get measurements done. Miah, you need to come too, because I want to get your measurements for the dress for my flower girl."

Miah grins at her aunt. Tanya looks at me in disgust.

"Wow, I guess you have such amazing hookups after all those marriages," Tanya snidely says as she takes a drink of her wine.

I can't help but smile, little Tanya is jealous as always. "No, my connections are from business. I met them when I was selling my programs. Though, being married to Aro Volturi did help me when it came to getting the Marriott for the entire day with the hotel empty." I take my own drink of wine.

Looking to Miah, I sign, How are you?

She gives me a million dollar smile and signs back, I am okay, I have made friends with Sabitha now. Thank you.

Good, I sign back quickly. How is school going?

Before Miah can reply, Tanya interrupts. "That is really rude. Edward, tell Miah how rude that is to have a conversation that no one can understand."

Anger creeps up inside me at the way she speaks about Miah.

"Tanya, she's been working really hard on her sign language, and Bella's been helping her. There's nothing wrong with it." His voice is hard, but not overly harsh.

"Why is Bella helping at all? She's not Miah's mom."
"Neither are you." My voice is harsh and livid. "You are a bitch. You were then, and you certainly are now."

"Please, coming from the cold-hearted machine. You can't feel anything, which is why you can't love. Why you can't even visit your own parents' graves. It's why your husbands cheated on you. You're probably just as cold in bed as you are everywhere else." The venom in her voice is not what hits home. It's the words.

"Tanya, that is not appropriate in front of Miah!" Esme scolds.
But I'm no longer listening to the trifle arguments around me. I get up and leave the house. I find myself at home, telling Charlie to put the house on lockdown. I want no company.

Days go by with me in my own personal bubble of self-doubt and loathing. Everyone tries to come over, but Charlie keeps his orders and keeps them out. Many of them leave messages. Jasper was a bit head strong, attempting to break into my house, but Charlie gave him a little shock treatment.

I have never been to my parents' graves. I never got any closure. I really haven't thought about it since being back. I've been busy with the house and helping Alice and just adjusting to the shock of being home. I didn't think I was that cold or unloving. I love Jasper, he's my brother. I've developed feelings for Emmett, Rose, Alice, Esme, Miah, and Carlisle; they've become a surrogate family to me. Even Edward has awakened something inside me that I didn't know existed.

I'm always overthinking everything, so I finally make the decision to see my dad at the very least. I park a distance away so that I can walk and mentally prepare myself. What I see, though, astonishes me.

Miah is sitting criss-cross, facing the headstone with flowers in her hand. I can see her mouth moving. I try to move closer to hear her, but not let her notice me.

"Bella is a really cool person. I know she isn't cold hearted like Tanya says. She's just busy and really hurting. She doesn't like to show it, but I can see it in her eyes. But she loves you, Chief Swan. She's been teaching me code and sign language. I really wish she was my mom. But when Bella is ready, she'll be here. She really misses you." She sets the flowers by my dad's headstone. I can't help but begin to cry.

She turns and sees me. "Bella, I was just letting your dad know you would visit."

I get down on my knees and take her in my arms and just hug her to me. "I wish you were my daughter, too," I whisper to her. She wraps her arms around my neck tighter.

We go back to my house and I text Edward, letting him know where Miah is. It isn't long before Charlie announces Edward's arrival. Miah is playing in my office and I'm in the kitchen preparing dinner for three.

"Bella." His voice is so velvety that it sends tingles through my body. I turn to face him; he has a five o'clock shadow and dark circles under his eyes. He's still the finest specimen I've ever seen.

"Edward. You look rough." I turn away again, keeping my hands busy.

"Everyone has been worried about you. I don't think I've seen Jasper blow up at someone like he did with Tanya. It was eye opening to me."

I hum in response. Jasper's reaction isn't shocking. He's always been protective of me.

"He told me the story of you and her. How you would try to get out of the homes you were placed in, and Tanya was so horrible that she gave you the out you needed. He didn't get into details, but from the gist of it, she did some incredibly horrible things."

I hum at him again, feeling very uncomfortable with him knowing this much about me.
"I broke up with her."

I turn quickly back to him, almost giving myself whiplash.

"You did?"


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